Terrain Aeration and the Valley of Fire

Tony Hawkinsin Machinery & Mechanics

The Sir Harold Hillier Gardens are famous around the globe and have the world's largest collection of hardy trees and shrubs anywhere in the temperate world.

The Gardens now hold fourteen National Plant Collections and the latest planting project has been named 'Valley of Fire'. The name is derived from the planting of over 30 different types of trees and shrubs that will create stunning autumn colour on both sides of what is currently known as Oak Tree Vista.

One of the challenges that faced the scheme was the need to create drainage in several areas of wet, heavy clay, to get the plantings off to a good start. David Jewell, Head of Collections, called upon the services of Terrain Aeration to carry out systematic treatment of the areas around the new plantings. "I have known of the Terrain Aeration service for many years," says David, "and have used them before.

Their machines do an excellent job with very little disruption, in our case in quite tight areas on very soft ground. The results always speak for themselves."

Terrain Aeration primarily used their Terralift Tracker to treat the areas between and around the saplings. The soft rubber tracks allowed the machine to traverse the soft ground and let the operator treat and de-compact the areas below any waterlogging. The method is especially effective where compaction or a natural water table forms an impermeable layer that will not allow water to pass through it; typical where there are areas of clay.

The machine's probe reaches far deeper than normal aeration and hydraulic fracturing of the ground with an air blast opens it up to improve drainage, and allow the all-important aeration around the root areas. As the probe exits the ground, dried seaweed is injected which swells in wet weather to keep the probe holes open to aeration. Four shots per square metre were delivered around the saplings.

The new planting created in the Oak Field Vista, the large area of the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens located just as you enter, has a viewpoint down a steep slope towards the distant Hampshire countryside. Planted with a collection of Oak trees, the views are beautiful most of the year but in autumn months, while elsewhere the Gardens are vibrant, there is only a scattering of colour.

The new plantings of North American Maples, Liquidambar, Acer, Sorbus and Cherry, interplanted around the existing trees, will bring tinted orange-reds to the view, while shrub beds planted with Sumachs, Lindera and Euonymus of orange, yellows, orangey reds and gold will complete the stunning autumn colour of the Valley of Fire.

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